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Big Data, Digital Health, Fitness, Healthcare, Internet Of Things IoT, mHealth, Sensors, Wearables
European regulators bring concern for start-ups that plan to sell their fitness and tracking devices to the corporate customer. Last June the European Advisory Panel stated that employers should be banned from giving their employees wearable tracking devices such as fitness monitors and smartwatches to track their employees’ health. Additionally the EU body also made it clear that employers should stay clear of accessing and using the data these devices create, even if the data is completely anonymous and employees gave their permission. Understandably, start-ups but also more established players are concerned, as are their corporate clients who use this data to improve their employee health and decrease medical insurance premiums. Fitbit states that employees should surely be informed about the uses of the generated date, who will have access and given the option to participate or not without any consequences for refusal. However the EU body sticks with its point. They find that even such transparency is  most likely insufficient. ““Given the unequal relationship between employers and employees,” the body said, workers were probably never able to give legally valid consent to have their data shared. “Even if the employer uses a third party to collect the health data, which would only provide aggregated information about general health developments to the employer, the processing would still be unlawful.”” – (Jeremy Kahn – 2017) Fitbit has a large stake in this but declined giving a direct comment on the opinion of the EU privacy groups. However Fitbit did state that they believe all wellness programs should protect the employees’ privacy and be voluntary. The company has over 1.300 organizations, encompassing more than 2,6 million people, using its devices for their corporate wellness program. These companies are concerned that  their employees spent too much time sitting and want to encourage them to move more. Nokia purchased Withings in 2015 and build their corporate wellness program Nokia Digital Health around it. Alex Normand, head of B2B sales of Nokia Digital Health stated: “We believe the responsible integration of connected health devices into the health care system, including through corporate wellness programs, has the potential to significantly improve the health and well-being of society, and are actively working with hospitals, research institutions, and health care providers to explore this promising field,”. He also stated they Nokia would abide by all applicable law and would uphold the highest standards of privacy and security in every market it sells. Move coach shares aggregated data, such as fitness levels and demographic age with consent of the users. The company Salesforce, LinkedIn and Microsoft Corp. With an eye on this new ‘EU opinion’ it is concerned that it will not be able to serve its European customers. Frank Palermo, head of solutions at Virtusa, a consultancy firm within connected devices and wearables, states that “Collecting data on worker activity and productivity to ensure their safety should be in the purview of the employer,”. Statement of the EU body is just an opinion, at least for now. This means that in the end it is up to each individual country to decide whether they want to comply or not with this opinion. However per May 2018, European regulations will become more streamlined and the New General Data Protection Regulation will be enforced. In this regulation it states that business are required to carry out impact assessments before implementing any technology or procedure into their company which may pose a risk to individual privacy rights. They are also required to select the most privacy friendly solutions. To finalize I just want to state that not everyone is concerned or disagrees with this opinion of the EU body. BioBeats, a company that uses wearable sensors and applications to better manage the employees stress levels, never gave companies access to their data. Therefore, CEO David Plans, stated that this regulation would give BioBeats more space to compete within the market. He finds that “The only thing that should ever reach the employer is our analysis of the data, not the data itself.”   This post is based on the following article – Fitness Tracking Startups Are Sweating Due To EU Privacy Regulations
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Sensors, Wearables
Finally the wearable market is expected to grow! wearable-market The market for connected wearables has entered a strong growth phase that will last for many years to come.” – (Berg Insight, 2017) In 2016 the estimated units shipped reached 96.5 million. Following Berg Insights research, the upcoming five years the connected wearables market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2%, to reach the shipment of 262.5 million units in 2021. This growth is divided over the following categories:
  • Fitness and Activity Trackers vs Smartwatches Through lower prices and new form factors the current largest connected wearable category, fitness & activity trackers, will reach shipments of 81.0 million units in 2021. Moreover, the smartwatch category, in 2016 comprising just 20.7 million units, is predicted to be the largest category in 2021, with an estimated 115.0 shipments. 
  • Smart Glasses With 1.2 million units in 2016, the sales of smart glasses was modest, not having reached its potential. This was the result from high prices, privacy concerns and limited availability. However the promising use cases in the niche consumer and the professional markets display demand. This will enable a shipment of 13.0 million smart glass devices in 2021.
  • Medical Devices and People Monitoring and Safety Devices Already common in the categories of medical devices and people monitoring and safety devices are ECG monitors,  Personal Emergency Response Systems (mPERS) and cardiac rhythm management devices. The two categories are estimated to grow to 16.0 million and 9.2 million shipments by 2021.
  • Smart Clothing An upcoming trend is the smart clothing. The focus on elite and professional applications together with overlapping use cases and low consumer awareness have limited large scale adoption. This however will change. The research suggest that the shipment of smart clothing will grow from 1.56 units in 2016 to 18.3 million units in 2021. 
  • Other Connected Wearable Devices Lastly, other wearable devices, no covered in the above categories, will grow from 1.4 million units in 2016 to 10.0 million units in 2021, having a CAGR of 48.2%.
Throughout these five years of growth Bluetooth will remain the primary connectivity option with regards to consumer centric wearables. For wearable medical devices this will be low power NFC technologies and Bluetooth which enables remote connectivity via medical monitoring system hubs. Moreover in 2021 the number of active cellular network connections from wearables is expected to reach 47.7 million connections. In 2016 this was only 3.3 million. This growth is mainly driven by two main factors:
  • In the smartwatch category cellular is increasingly adopted. 
  • In the people monitoring and safety category, cellular connectivity is already the main type of technology and will continue to increasingly be used for many types of devices. 
Finally, it is good to know that bring your own device (BYOD) will increasingly impact the medical device category, especially when looking at connected care and patient-driven models. This article is based on the Connected Wearable Report 2017 – 3th Edition of Berg Insight
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Digital Health, Fitness, mHealth, Sensors, Trends 2017, Wearables
  The movement within the wearable market is very clear. Demand makes that wearables are becoming less expensive and increasingly commoditized. Just better sensors is now no longer enough. Wearables need to be smarter and more useful. They need to analyse multiple data at once, or so to say, be more holistic. To do so, many wearable makers all over the world are focusing on AI-powered devices. However, there are still few areas where wearables (and its sensors) can have a differentiating impact for both the consumer and the clinical world. One surprising area, which can have this differentiating impact, is the area of sweat monitoring. Developing under the radar, sweat sensors have matured rapidly and are attracting increased investments as these technologies move quickly from lab to commercialization. Whispers on social media about the impact of these sensors are valid. As we see it, sweat is the future blood. Sweat gives access to a broad range of data. It can measure:
  • Biomarkers like sodium
  • Heath related issues like fluid loss leading to dehydration.
  • Potassium levels (affecting hearth beat)
  • Glucose level
And you don’t even have to prick your finger for measuring!! “Kenzen, a developer of a next-generation wearables platform that continuously monitors, predicts and prevents avoidable health conditions using non-invasive sweat analysis has raised $5 million in funding. Kenzen’s ECHO smart wearable patch continuously uses non-invasive sweat analysis to measure vital signs and motion sensors to predict and prevent avoidable injuries and illness. ECHO only needs the smallest micro-bead to perform an analysis of key biomarkers. Beyond water, this concentration includes electrolytes like sodium, metabolites, glucose, various molecules and proteins.”(Jasmine Pennic, 06/05/2017) wearables trends With this data we could completely change the way we diagnose and monitor health. It could optimize performance, prevent injuries from happening (by giving an alert when sodium levels are too low for example), give early notification before we get sick and with that save billions of dollars in healthcare. Some would say, the reason for health wearables to be here in the first place. Therefore, experts believe that sweat sensors could take health wearables to the next level. Well.. Only time will tell. The wearables have certainly come a long way since early innovations appeared in the market 10 years ago. We can witness powerful capabilities and multifunctional features, these articles are a reflection of that. A reduction in size, increased capabilities, enrichment in data sets and implantable techniques using sensors, are increasingly exploited.   Articles Used: The Most Surprising Wearable Trend Q2 2017 Sweat Is The New Blood: Why Sweat Analysis Is The Next Gen Of Wearable Diagnostics.

Kenzen Raises $5M to Expand Real-Time Sweat Analysis Wearable That Measures Biometrics.

 
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